Q. I spent the last few months in an intimate relationship with a married man who I work with and have known for many years. We’ve always gotten along great, and I must admit that I was taken by surprise by his sudden interest in me. I did not see it coming and I reciprocated after some hesitation.
Things then took off. I heard all of the stories about the problems at home. Some I believed and some I didn’t. I even caught him in a few lies. Given the circumstances, I was not surprised. It’s obvious he lies. . .
I am ashamed to admit that I just went along with it despite my initial objections. My thought then was that if he were truly on his way out of the marriage, it would be OK to spend time together, no strings attached. Besides, at that time I felt like I did not want a relationship. I only wanted a part-time companion.
Now, months later, I feel differently. Spending time with him has made me realize that I am truly ready to be in a “real” relationship. I want to be able to freely go places with a guy without hiding and being worried about being seen.
I don’t want him to leave his wife for many reasons, including the fact that I don’t feel like going public would be a good thing for either one of our jobs and I honestly don’t feel like I am in love with him.
He is a nice guy. We have had a lot of good times together, but I don’t know why I feel so guilty breaking it off with someone I know I could never have.
By the way, I know it isn’t good enough, but I have apologized to his wife in my head about a million times. . .
Overwhelmed by Guilt,Boston
A. You’re not overwhelmed by guilt. At least not about the affair.
Your letter suggests that you feel guilty because you’re ending this relationship for selfish reasons, not because it’s the right thing to do.
If you liked this man more, would you continue the affair? (I fear the answer is yes.) If you believed that he might be a good long-term companion, would you have serious concerns about him leaving his wife? (I assume the answer is no.) Everything you say in this letter is about what’s best for you. You feel bad about leaving him because you’re still serving yourself first.
You compartmentalized so many decisions to make this affair seem acceptable that you’ve lost all perspective. It’s time to get back to reality.
My advice is to drop this guy (obviously) and then spend some time asking yourself how you really feel. Talk to friends about your choices. Consider bouncing it off a professional. Write it down — because sometimes it helps to see it all on paper.
It’s time to remove yourself from the situation and let the accountability rush in. That’s what’s missing here.
What do you want us to tell you? That we feel badly that you feel guilty? I don’t think so.
I don’t believe you feel a whiff of guilt, letter writer. I think you are mimicing the kind of sentiment that you think other people feel, but don’t feel yourself. I also think that you were bored and maybe a tad lonely and had nothing else going on in your romantic life so when this lying toad cast his eye in your direction you shrugged and said, “Eh, why not?” You are certainly not ending it because you are guilty. You are considering ending it because you are bored (again) and want something else. I would call you amoral and totally lacking in any emotion that resembles a human being. I believe this may be the nicest thing you will be called all day.
You should feel guilty and ashamed. If any man or woman is unhappy in a relationship, the best thing is to just get out. . . . By yourself.
Don’t involve a third party. Home wrecker.
I see no question here. It seems like you are trying to defend your actions in front of this crowd. I have no idea why. I’ll put it simply — you screwed up. We all screw up. You screwed up big time and now you want to walk away without consequence. Life rarely works out that way. I think you need a new job to get away from this completely and try not to screw up anybody else’s life while you are screwing up your own.
End it now, letter writer. And start working on your resume.
Meh. “Overwhelmed by Guilt”??? I dunno. Sounds more like “Loves the Drama!” would have made a better moniker. Look. You are in a relationship that you know is a dead end (he’s married fer cryin’ out loud). Stick a fork in it and move on. And next time, don’t be a drama queen and stick with people that are actually available to date.
Get into therapy. You seem at best blase about this. Oh, you feel guilty but really, I think Meredith’s right. You feel bad that you’ll hurt his feelings when you end it. You don’t give two hoots about the wife. I don’t know what’s fueling this. A good therapist will be able to work with you to figure that out.
I think you finally now understand how big of a mistake you made and you need a push in the right direction to get out of a bad situation. Here you go. . . *shove*
I’m thinking you were in a little rut. Everyone hits them every now and then, this guy hits on you and you plunge into the affair. Turns out it was the esteem boost you needed to hike out of the rut and move on in life. Great, thrilled for you. Now, other than you’re afraid on jumping into the dating pool again, why did you write in? ’Cause you don’t seem to be feeling much guilt.
Nothing prepares one for a “real’’ relationship like an affair with a married man. You apologized to the wife, in your head. That’s great. And it sounds like you’re also ending it, soon, in your head. Isn’t that special.
SLIMPICKENSIIIThis column and reader comments are edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/love
letters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@
globe.com. She chats online Wednesdays at 1 p.m.